“I have poisoned the King. As well as his councilor. The Warrior sent by the Shautu isn’t dead, but in the dungeons. He may be hurt.” It was just the veriest look, but enough to cause Elymas to add, “He is hurt, worked over by the Sacred Servants. I don’t know how badly. I wasn’t there.”
“Why did you attack him?”
“He delivered a false message. He claimed the Shautu had sent him with a message that a new Earth Skyll had been born and –“
“The Whitehair spoke the truth. You’re successor lives and–“
“But I have no successor!” croaked Elymas. His windpipe had been nearly crushed, but the force of his passion shot through. “I am the one who will make the flower bloom again.”
‘It’s time for you to stop believing that particular delusion. Nor do I intend to argue with you about this. What you are is this: an Earth Skyll who has managed to hold his spot by murdering countless children.”
He tried to spoke. She stopped him with a lift of her hand.
” It makes no difference to me if you’ve killed one or thousands, but leave this one alone. The Dark One wants him for his own. But the child has been born and is somewhere in Casoria. Maybe even in this castle. Think carefully. Do you have any idea where he might be?”
In this very castle? Elymas’s face sagged with disbelief.
“I see.” She didn’t sound pleased and he didn’t dare say a word. “In any case, he will be found soon enough. As for King William, the Tu’el has messaged there is a use for him as well.”
“He is dead,” said Elymas, knowing he was dead as well.
“No, he is not. I gave him the antidote.”
“There is no antidote for Lud Sellum.”
“But Dr. Sugallus said. . .”
“Suga?” She giggled. This deathtrap actually giggled. “There is no Dr. Sugallus nor is there a winsome lad.”
He flushed, remembering he’d tried to buy her. He did the only thing he could do; he changed the subject.
“Then I’m innocent of the King’s death.”
‘Innocence?” Rizla lifted one perfectly arched brow. “One such as you should explain to me.”
“Very well, taunt me. But how was I to know the King’s attempted death would go against the Dark One’s plans. I set my own course, and have never had contact with him.”
“Set your own course? No contact?” She laughed long and loud. The sound was most unpleasant. She lifted her gossamer hem and dabbed at her eyes. “Surely, you don’t think you’ve acted alone all these years. Without our help, you’d have been found out after the first death. The first earth child, ah, let’s see, died from being savaged by a wolf pack. The mother as well.”
Though his windpipe was clear, Elymas was finding it hard to breath again.
“The crude sacrifices on the stump? The deaths of the Nawabs? That thing you keep in the cupboard?” She paused to watch him wince. “You’ve done nothing on your won. Or, you’ve done nothing that hasn’t been known to us. You’ve long been a servant to the Tu’el and a slave of the Dark.”
Elymas found himself nodding yes.